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So you wanna run A&S?

Having served as the Arts and Sciences Officer for the Shire of Eisental for over 4 years, I got a lot of chances to run competitions and displays. In my experience in the East Kingdom, most people have no clue where to begin because we don't have any standardized protocol for them like pre-defined forms, criteria, or categories. So the best I can do to help is to share what I've found out works and doesn't work in the context of the SCA.

All sample forms below are in Word 2000 format... I hope to make other versions someday (maybe PDFs), but for now if you need a text-only version, please email me.

A&S Display or Exhibition
A&S Competition
Large A&S Competition

A&S Display or Exhibition

Displays require relatively little effort on the part of the coordinator, but at minimum one must:

  • Define the scope of the display
    • when and where will it be?
    • works-in-progress allowed?
    • material items or performances or both?
    • limited to or aimed at promoting a type of art or science (i.e. woodworking)?
    • limited to or aimed at promoting a time or place (i.e. Ottoman Empire)?
    • is documentation required, encouraged, or unnecessary?
  • Promote the display
    • in the event announcement
    • flyers, email, word-of-mouth
  • Set up an area for display
    • post hours for drop-off, general viewing, and pick-up
    • ensure Troll knows where it is and can direct people there
    • make signs so people know when they get there
    • provide adequate tables and space around the tables
  • Man the display
    • A&S entries are valuable to their owners - you are responsible for them while they are in your care, so if you can't be there ask someone else to keep an eye on them
    • Optionally you may provide comment sheets (see sample)
  • Find owners of items not picked up by the closing time

A&S Competition

Running a competition is an all-day commitment, so don't plan on doing much else at the event until the competition is over.

I have put together an Access 2000 database for running A&S Competitions. Unfortunately there are a couple of improvements that need to be made to it and you may need to know a little bit about Access to customize it for your competition. If you use it, please feel free to contact me with questions, suggestions, etc.

Right-click the following and choose "Save Target As..." A&S Database

Before the Event:

  • Define the scope of the competition
    • Logistics
      • when and where will it be?
      • space for material items or performances or both?
      • is the competition the central activity of the event or a minor sideline?
    • Entries
      • what are the categories that can be entered?
      • will categories be broken up or combined if there are too few/too many entries in an area?
      • works-in-progress allowed?
      • kits allowed?
      • group entries allowed?
      • limited to or aimed at promoting a type of art or science (i.e. woodworking)?
      • limited to or aimed at promoting a time or place (i.e. Ottoman Empire)?
      • limited to people of a certain rank (i.e. novices, people with kingdom-level arts award, Laurels)?
      • can people enter if they won something in this competition last year?
      • can people enter items that have won A&S competitions elsewhere? (in general, an item that has won awards at a local level may enter higher-level kingdom or inter-kingdom competitions but not vice versa)
      • may one person enter multiple items in the same category?
      • what sort of documentation is expected?
    • Registration of entries
      • should an entrant put their name on their entry or their documentation? (if no, provide a means for numbering entries instead)
      • can entrants pre-register?
      • if you wish to ONLY accept pre-registrations, be very clear in the event announcement that no entries will be accepted the day of the competition
    • Judging
      • will non-judged (display/exhibition) items be accepted?
      • what will the entries be judged on?
      • who will judge?
      • will scores be assigned by individual judges or groups of judges?
      • how will scoring be tallied?
    • Prizes
      • will prizes be awarded for each category?
      • will prizes be awarded for categories with only one entry?
      • will there be any prizes for an individual with the highest total of their top 3 (5, 10, etc.) scores? (See section on Large A&S Competition)
      • will there be any "special" prizes i.e.. Autocrat's Choice, The John Mailman Memorial Award for Metalworkers, Most Humorous, Youth prizes, etc.
      • what will the prizes be?
  • Determine Schedule
    • Registration (will you accept entries after the cut-off time if they notify you to expect them?)
    • Plan a Judging Kick-off Meeting
    • Allow ample time for judging (3 hrs or more)- it always takes longer than expected
    • Allow time for General Viewing ONLY if the judges will have enough time before then to finish judging
    • Allow ample time for tallying (1 hr or more after all sheets are in)
    • Advertise entry pick-up hours
    • Determine who/when/where the awards will be announced
  • Promote the competition
    • in the event announcement
      • list at least a cutoff time for registration and a contact for more information
      • if the competition is central to the event, list the categories, what entries will be judged on, what prizes will be given, and any non-standard information
    • flyers, email, word-of-mouth
      • have a pre-written detailed description to give out via email and snail mail for inquiries
  • Obtain Judges
    • Sample Judges Sign-up sheet
    • Don't wait until the day of the competition!
    • Use personal contacts to guilt people into coming to the event
    • Over plan - some judges will cancel or forget
    • Tell them a specific time and place they should report for judging
  • Obtain other resources as necessary to take charge of
    • Registration
    • Placement of items in competition area
    • Tallying
    • Calligraphy of winners names on award scrolls (optional)
  • Collect/print supplies
    • Signs for Registration, Schedule, etc.
    • Signs to label each category (print on cardstock, fold into tent shape, tape to table or put weight inside)
    • Registration, Entry, Cross-entry and Judges forms (I recommend different colored papers for each)
    • Pens, extra paper and cardstock, note cards, paper clips, stapler, sticky notes, scissors, safety pins for registration and labeling entries
    • Pens, ruler, highlighters, calculator or computer for tally person
    • lots of manila envelopes
      • for each category - Judges can put the judging sheets into an envelope that goes to the Tally person
      • for each entrant - put comments and judging sheets into envelopes after tallying is done

Day of the event:

  • Set up an area for the competition
    • post entire schedule in multiple places
    • ensure Troll knows where it is and can direct people there
    • make signs so people know when they get there
    • provide adequate tables and space around the tables
    • provide chairs and writing surfaces for judges if possible
  • Register Entrants
    • One Registration form for Entrant, assign them an Entrant Number
      • Sample Registration Form for Triathlon
      • Each entry will receive an Entry Letter (cross-entered entries still only get one Letter)
      • Get an email or mailing address for each person so you can get them their scores if they don't claim them later
      • Write the entrant's name and Entrant Number on a manila envelope, put their registration form in it, and give it to the tally person
    • One Entry Form per Entry, to sit with item on table (or label entries and documentation well)
      • Sample Entry Form
      • Remember to mark the Entrant number and Entry letter on each item and piece of documentation
    • For entries in more than one category, put a Cross-entry form in the secondary category to point judges to the item in the primary category
  • Hold Judging Kick-off Meeting
    • Tell or hand each judge info on which categories & how many entries they need to judge
    • Hand out judging sheets (Sample Judging Sheet, customized for a "Slavic" A&S Competition)
    • Provide an envelope for completed judging sheets for each category
    • Be very clear about what the judging criteria means, especially if your Kingdom does not have pre-defined criteria
    • Emphasize the need to include positive comments and constructive criticism
  • Judging Time
    • Remain available to judges for questions
    • Take responsibility for decisions
      • You may disqualify entries if necessary (i.e. an entirely machine-sewn embroidery entry)
      • You may tell the judges to make allowances for unusual circumstances (i.e. the entrant is only 5 years old)
    • Ensure all judges sheets for each category get to the tally person as soon as they are completed
  • Man the display through General Viewing time
    • A&S entries are valuable to their owners - you are responsible for them while they are in your care
    • Optionally you may provide comment sheets (see sample)
  • Tally Scores
    • Sample form for manual tallying
    • all computations should be done on a calculator or computer and double checked carefully - never take the judges' addition skills for granted!
    • after scores are entered on tally sheet (or spreadsheet or database on computer), judging sheets should be placed in the entrant's manila envelope
    • After all categories are in, check each entrant's registration form against the number of judges sheets in the envelope to make sure all judges sheets are accounted for
    • Determine winners for each category and award
    • in my opinion, entrants should not be in charge of or even present for the tallying
  • If scrolls will be awarded with entrants' names on them, allow at least 1 hr. for calligraphy (or get more calligraphers!)
  • Find owners of items not picked up by the closing time
  • Announce winners and make score sheets available for pick-up

After the Event:

  • Consider posting winners in local or Kingdom newsletter
  • Mail unclaimed judging sheets to entrants
  • Pat self on back for having made it through!

Large A&S Competition

Any competition that gives awards specifically for people entering 3 or more categories can expect to be larger than a "generic" competition. Traditionally, large competitions like this can be signified by a name, ie. Triathlon if entrants are encouraged to enter 3 or more categories, Pentathlon for 5 categories, Decathlon for 10 categories. I'll use "Triathlon" in examples below. In running a large competition there are some additional concerns:

  • Scoring
    • will an entrant's Triathlon score be their 3 highest scores (regardless of category) or their 3 highest scores from different categories?
  • Pre-registration
    • I highly recommend setting up a way for entrants to pre-register before the event. It saves stress both for them and for you.
  • Careful scheduling
    • Judging always takes longer than people think it will. Don't schedule any one person to judge more than 3 categories, less if possible.
    • People judging Performance arts probably won't have time to judge other categories
  • Very organized tallying
    • Lost judging sheets are probably the most common and damaging error in large competitions
    • Start tallying as soon as you get the first judge's sheet back


All content copyright the author, Jennifer Munson munson.jennifer@gmail.com The author makes no guarantees for instructions and recipes on this site; neither does she accept responsibility for their outcomes. Verbatim copies may be made for educational purposes only provided they contain original copyright marking.

This page created August 4, 2001

Last updated August 02, 2005